Springtime Means Enjoying the Great Outdoors

Springtime Means Enjoying the Great Outdoors

Wildflowers, hiking, history, water sports, fishing and more – journey along the East Tennessee Crossing Byway for the best the season has to offer

There’s no better time than springtime in East Tennessee. As the days grow warmer and the landscape comes alive with color, it’s the perfect time to experience all the area has to offer. Whether you’re a lifelong resident or a first-time visitor, there are countless ways to enjoy the season, including taking a journey along one of the nation’s newest scenic byways. 

The East Tennessee Crossing Scenic Byway, which stretches 83 miles through picturesque landscapes, beckons adventurers with its winding roads, breathtaking vistas, and an array of attractions and activities that promise a memorable outdoor experience. Motorcyclists, seasoned hikers, history buffs, fisherman, and nature buffs of all types will appreciate the beauty of the byway.

Discover Small Town Charm and History Amidst Blooming Wildflowers and Lush Forests

As spring breathes new life into the landscape, the East Tennessee Crossing Scenic Byway offers a journey through time amidst vibrant blossoms. At the Northernmost point of the byway, explore the wildflower trails in Cumberland Gap National Historical Park, where the vibrant colors complement the rich history that shaped the region. Hand-curated trail maps and driving directions offer visitors the best routes to viewing the springtime splendor.

The nearby Abraham Lincoln Library and Museum in Harrogate provides a picturesque backdrop of blooming dogwoods and redbuds as visitors explore one of the world’s largest private collections of Lincoln and Civil War material.

Visit the historic towns for more springtime exploration and learn how the area was shaped over the years by Native Americans, early pioneers and settlers, and the Civil War. Rutledge, Bean Station, Morristown, Russellville, Jefferson City, Dandridge and White Pine are just a few of the stops to make along the way. Stay overnight to extend your journey along the byway and experience the breadth of East Tennessee’s warm hospitality. There are plenty of dining and lodging options. 

The city of Newport marks the end of the byway and serves as the gateway to Cherokee National Forest and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Both parks offer lush forests and spring blooms, with plenty of wildflower and hiking trail guides. 

Three Tranquil Lakes with Abundant Fishing, Watersports and Camping – Norris Lake, Cherokee Lake and Douglas Lake

For those seeking the tranquility of the water, the byway leads to three of Tennessee’s most beautiful lakes. 

Norris Lake

Nestled in the Clinch and Powell Valleys and surrounded by wilderness, Norris Lake is one of the Tennessee Valley Authority’s clearest and cleanest lakes, making it a popular day trip and vacation destination. With 34,000 surface acres and 800 miles of shoreline, sports enthusiasts enjoy boating, skiing, paddleboarding, canoeing and kayaking. Noted for its smallmouth bass fishing from November through April, Norris Lake also contains largemouth bass, spotted bass, striped bass, walleye and black crappie for springtime fishing. Overnight accommodations include houseboats and many campgrounds that line the shores. 

Cherokee Lake

Cherokee Lake is surrounded by gently rolling hills and scenic pastures with a view of the Clinch Mountain range to the Northwest. With fish densities greater than most other TVA reservoirs, the lake draws anglers from across the country. Boating, swimming, camping, and kayaking are also popular. The lake spans 28,000 surface acres with 400 miles of shoreline and includes boat docks, resorts, parks and picnic areas. Panther Creek State Park is located on the lake’s eastern shores,  launch boats, paddleboards and kayaks from the park’s boat ramp, and hiking is a popular pastime here, as the park has more than 30 miles of trails, including Point Lookout Trail, which allows for incredible views of Cherokee Lake and the Cumberland Mountains. Camp at Panther Creek State Park or one of several other campgrounds and RV parks at the lake.

Douglas Lake

Douglas Lake is located just a few miles northeast of Sevierville. Additional towns around the lake are Dandridge and Newport, with major tourist towns Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg nearby. The lake has 550 miles of shoreline stretching out over more than 30,400 acres. In addition to boating, fishing, camping and swimming, the area of the lake known as Rankins Bottom is one of the best birding areas in East Tennessee. The lake is ranked as one of the top crappie fishing lakes in the country. It’s also in the top 10 in the nation for largemouth bass and hosts many professional tournaments in both the spring and fall. Two of the three rivers that feed the lake, French Broad River and Nolichucky River, offer great fly fishing.

Stay Updated with Local Events and Happenings

As the days grow longer and springtime fills the air, be sure to take advantage of the beauty, history and charm that may be found along the East Tennessee Crossing Byway. 

To learn more about the area, follow these social channels for the latest updates on local attractions, events, festivals and more!

Guardians of the Gap https://www.facebook.com/gapguardians/; https://www.instagram.com/guardiansofthegap

Visit Claiborne Counthttps://www.facebook.com/visitClaiborneCountyTN/

Grainger County Tourism https://www.facebook.com/discovereasttn

Visit Morristownhttps://www.facebook.com/MorristownTN.StayPlayDine/; https://www.instagram.com/visitmorristowntn/

Visit Jefferson County https://www.facebook.com/visitjefferson; https://www.instagram.com/visitjeffersonco_tn

Cocke County Tourism https://www.facebook.com/CockeCountyTourism/

9 Lakes of East Tennesseehttps://www.facebook.com/9lakeseasttn/; https://www.instagram.com/9lakeseasttn